Paul Mobius - On Women (1900)
- One can speak of the physiological idiocy of women in two meanings.
- It is not easy to say what idiocy is. One can say: that which lies between stupidity and normal verbal behavior. However, the difficulty lies in the demarcation between stupidity and normal behavior. For the latter we do not even have a German word, for health is by no means the appropriate term; sensible refers to the senses, not to meaning; perceptive means a development of the meaning beyond the norm; straightforward refers to moral behavior. In ordinary life we have the opposites: clever and stupid; clever is one who can distinguish, the stupid one lacks the critical faculty. In fact, there should be no essential difference between stupidity and the light forms of idiocy. One should not object that stupidity is healthy, idiocy pathological, because this contradiction is popular in a bad sense and is basically based on the improper interference of values. From a scientific point of view, common stupidity can be just as much a pathological deviation as abnormal shortness or poor sightedness, etc. On the other hand, there really is a physiological idiocy, since the child is imbecile in comparison with the adult and since one cannot call growing old a disease (in spite of the saying senectus ipsa morbus [Old age itself is a disease]), but with growing old a decrease in mental capacity occurs sooner or later. Incidentally, language also uses the word stupid in the case of pathological changes: he has become stupid through drinking, or through a fevered illness. However, even if we count stupidity as idiocy, the difficulty is not removed because the upper limit of stupidity is not fixed. In a certain sense everyone is stupid, one in music, another in mathematics, this one in languages, that one in trade and commerce, and so on. One would therefore have to distinguish between partial and general idiocy. With certain right one will say, yes, the special talents do not count, one only needs to have good abilities on average. That's just it, what does the average mean, how to determine the norm? Here, as everywhere in the determination of subtler pathological forms, which cannot be done with the rough data of the ordinary clinic, we come up against the lack of an intellectual canon. For the bodily forms we have a canon and can easily determine whether this or that number of centimeters is still normal, but for the mental abilities the rule is missing; here arbitrariness rules. One thinks only of the differences of the expertise in doubtful cases. It would be foolish to claim that the uncertainty that now prevails is necessary, because one cannot draw boundaries where in reality there are none. The matter is not so bad, if one only makes an effort, one will already succeed in establishing an approximate canon and to limit the uncertainty, even eliminate it altogether. In general, and also with regard to idiocy, the right way should be that one no longer speaks simply of people, but of certain types of people, that one asks what one can ask of this age, this gender, this people. The normal behavior of the child is pathological to the adult, that of the woman to the man, that of the Negro to the European. Comparison of different groups is the main thing, because only in this way one can find out what is to be expected from a member of a certain group, only in this way one can avoid calling a man stupid or feeble-minded, because he does not perform what any other man can perform. In other words, idiocy is a relation and idiocy can only have meaning in comparison with one one’s kind. If one may not measure the member of the one group against that of the other, one may contrast the groups themselves. An Eskimo who cannot count to a hundred is not an idiot as an Eskimo, but because it is so, the Eskimo as such is an idiot in comparison with the German or Frenchman. How is it now with the sexes? It is certain from the outset that the male and female mental abilities are very different, but does a balance take place in such a way that the women perform more here, the men there, or are women as a whole moronic in comparison to men? The proverb is of the latter opinion, because it says: long hair, short mind, but modern wisdom does not want to know anything about it; for it the female mind is at least equal to the male one. A sea of ink has been spilled over these things and yet there is no question of agreement and clarity. The best summary I know is the 1st part of the book by Ferrero and Lombroso , which deals with the normal woman. Of course, I cannot agree with all the individual statements of the authors, nor adopt all their constructions, but on the whole, the proof of the spiritual inferiority of the woman is very well shown here. The description of the Italians covers 192 printed pages and is nevertheless aphoristic. If one wanted to proceed thoroughly, a thick book would result. It is therefore understandable that I can only hint at the most important things here. One will always do well to take both the direct and the indirect path, i.e. to refer not only to psychological but also to anatomical observation.
- Physically, apart from the sexual characteristics, the female is an intermediate between child and man, and spiritually she is also, at least in many respects. In detail, of course, there are differences. In the child the head is relatively larger than in the man, in the woman the head is not only absolutely but also relatively smaller. A small head naturally also encloses a small brain, but here, as well as against Bischoff's brain analyses, one can use the excuse that a small brain can be just as valuable as a large one, since it can contain the parts important for mental life just as well. Therefore, the comparative studies of individual parts of the brain are more important, at least more convincing. Here especially the results of Rüdinger come into consideration, which do not seem to me to be as well-known as they deserve to be. Rüdinger has demonstrated on delivered newborns that "the whole group of convolutions framing the Sylvian fissure is simpler and less curved in the girl than in the boy," that "the island of Reil in the boy is, on average, somewhat larger, more convex and more grooved in all its diameters than in the girl." He has shown in adults (ibid. p. 32 ff. Plate IV.) that the female gyrus frontalis tertius is simpler and smaller than the male, especially that section immediately adjacent to the central gyrus." Inspection of the plates reveals that the differences are very considerable. Rüdinger has also shown that "in female brains, the entire medial turn of the parietal lobe and the inner superior transitional turn lag significantly behind in their development." In mentally low standing men (e.g. a Negro) he found similar conditions of the parietal lobe to the female ones, while in mentally high standing men the powerful development of the parietal lobe gave a completely different picture. Rüdinger found the simplest conditions in a Bavarian woman, he speaks of "animal-like type".
- According to this it is proven that for the mental life extraordinarily important parts of the brain, the windings of the frontal and temporal lobes, are worse developed in women than in men and that this difference already exists at birth.
- Just as man and woman have the same cerebral convolutions, only of different sizes, so both have also the same mental qualities, a little more or less makes the difference, no quality comes exclusively to one sex. The senses seem to be about equally sharp in both sexes. Lombroso believes to have found that the pain sensitivity of the skin is lower in the female. Assuming that his observations were generally confirmed, it would not be a matter of lower sensory acuity, but of lower mental reaction to strong stimuli. Also the fact that men are more capable of fine distinctions, e.g. when examining tea, sorting wool, is probably to be understood in such a way that they can better judge small differences of sensation. On the other hand, the pleasure of women in colors is not to be understood as a better sense of color, but to be explained by mental relations. It is different with the motor side, because in strength and dexterity the woman stands deeply below the man. Because of her weakness, she is mainly dependent on work that requires a certain dexterity, and this gives rise to the belief in the dexterous female fingers. However, as soon as a man takes on a woman's work, as a tailor, as a weaver, as a cook, etc., he does better work than the woman. Basically, dexterity is an achievement of the cerebral cortex, just like the evaluation of sensory perceptions, and we are again directed to look for the difference of the sexes in the actual mental abilities. One of the most essential differences is probably that the instinct plays a greater role in women than in men. One can form a series in the idea: at one end there are beings who act exclusively on instinct, at the other those in whom every action is based on reflection. In general, it is peculiar to spiritual development that instinct has less and less to mean, reflection more and more, that the generic being becomes more and more individual. We speak of instinct when a purposeful action is carried out without the agent knowing why; as soon as certain circumstances recur, an apparatus works in us and we carry out an action as if an alien reason urges us to do so. But we also speak of instinctive cognition when we arrive at judgments without knowing how. Basically, no action and cognition is without instinct, for part of the process always falls into the unconscious, but there are differences in degree. The more the individual consciousness participates in cognition and action, the more highly developed the individual is, the more independent he is. We call feeling the intermediate state between the purely instinctive and the clearly conscious feeling. To act out of, to believe something to be true out of feeling, is to do it half instinctively. Instinct has great advantages, it is reliable and does not cause worries; feeling shares half of these advantages. Instinct makes the woman animal-like, dependent, secure and cheerful. In it rests her peculiar power, it makes her admirable and attractive. Many female peculiarities are connected with this animal-like quality. First of all, the lack of one's own judgment. What is true and good is true and good for women. They are strictly conservative and hate novelty, except, of course, in cases where the novelty brings personal advantage or the lover is in favor of it. Just as animals have been doing the same thing since time immemorial, so too would the human race, were there only women, have remained in its original state. All progress starts from the man. That is why the woman often clings to him like a lead weight; she prevents some restlessness and cheeky innovations, but she also hinders the noble, for she is unable to distinguish good from evil and simply subjects everything to custom and "the sayings of the people." The lack of criticism is also expressed in suggestibility. Instinct does not rule almost entirely on its own, as it does in animals, but is connected with individual thinking, which is not strong enough on its own and must rely on foreign thinking, which makes bias, love, or vanity appear trustworthy. Thus the apparent contradiction arises that women, as guardians of old customs, follow every fashion, are conservative, and yet accept every absurdity as soon as it is skillfully suggested. With the detachment from the originally instinctive, with the becoming of the ego and the growth of individual thinking, egoism grows first, or more correctly, the individual being, selfish by nature, which, as long as it obeys its instincts only, unconsciously also acts for the benefit of others, will, when it begins to think, act contrary to social instincts. Only a high spiritual development gives the insight that by promoting the general welfare, one's own welfare is also promoted. Most women remain in the middle state: their morality is definitely emotional morality or unconscious right-doing, conceptual morality is inaccessible to them, and reflection only makes them worse. To this one-sidedness is added the narrowness of their field of vision caused by their natural position. They live in the children and the man; what is beyond the family does not interest them. Justice without regard to the person is an empty concept to them. It is quite wrong to call women immoral, but they are morally one-sided or defective. As far as their love reaches, as far as viewed suffering awakens their compassion, they are often capable of any sacrifice and not seldom put the colder man to shame. But they are unjust at heart, they laugh inwardly at the law and violate it as soon as fear or training permit. In addition, there is the vehemence of the affections, the incapacity for self-control. Jealousy and wounded or dissatisfied vanity arouse storms that no moral concern can withstand. If the woman were not physically and mentally weak, if she were not usually rendered harmless by circumstances, she would be highly dangerous. In times of political insecurity one has learned with horror of the injustice and cruelty of women, as well as in the women who have unhappily come to rule. In ordinary life, these two qualities usually show themselves only in the activity of the tongue and in writing: Insults, defamations, anonymous letters. The tongue is the sword of women, for their physical weakness prevents them from fencing with their fists, their mental weakness makes them forego evidence, so only the abundance of words remains. Quarrelsomeness and garrulity have always been rightly counted among the female traits. Chatting gives women infinite pleasure; it is the real female sport. Perhaps this can be understood if one thinks of the exercise games of animals. The cat chases after the ball, practicing to hunt mice, the woman exercises her tongue throughout her life, in order to be prepared for verbal fights.
- After this general characteristic, the so-called intellectual abilities would still have to be considered. One will have to separate the reception and retention of ideas, i.e. understanding and memory, on the one hand, and the arbitrary combination of ideas, the formation of new judgments, on the other. Understanding and memory are not at all bad in many women, unless special talents come into question. If they want to, they grasp things quite well and remember what they have learned just as well as men. Since, in addition, they are docile and patient, they really have the potential to become master pupils. Wherever women have taken it into their heads to participate in higher education, there is only one voice saying that they are excellent students, and the more thoughtless the teacher is, the more satisfied he tends to be with the eager learning of the students, which is mostly rote learning. If, in spite of this, the great majority of the female sex learns extraordinarily little and forgets what they have learned extraordinarily quickly, it is not because they are able, but because they want to. The average woman has exclusively personal interests; if learning does not offer a personal advantage in the near future, it is repugnant to her. Interest in the matter is present only in exceptional cases. The relatively favorable judgment about the receptivity has its counterpart in the proof of the intellectual sterility of the woman. The highest is when a woman proves to be a good student in such a way that she handles the method learned from him in the sense of the teacher. In contrast, the actual "making", the invention, the creation of new methods is denied to the woman. She cannot become master, so to speak, because a master is someone who invents something. It is a popular trick of men, who have instilled their desire for emancipation in women, and of their followers, to claim that the women have only lacked exercise, that they have been made slaves like the African blacks by muscular men and that their minds have atrophied in slavery. To these assertions are usually attached Darwinian ravings that the acquired brain atrophy has been inherited, and vice versa it is to be expected that if now women exercise their brains, their granddaughters will be born with a large brain, ravings that could at most have a meaning if it was a matter of parthenogenesis. More brazenly than the "feminists" do, one cannot slap the truth in the face. The easiest way is to point out the fields which have always been open to women and in which they have moved at will. Music, for example, has never been a male domain; on the contrary, more girls than boys are taught music. What has come out of it? The women sing and play, partly quite well, but that is the end of the matter. Where is the female composer, who would mean progress? In painting, as in music, there is no contradiction between the creative and the performing artist; they all paint, and whether one of them creates is not always easy to say. However, it is easy to see that the vast majority of female painters are completely devoid of creative imagination and cannot go beyond a mediocre technique: flowers, still-life, portraits. Very seldom one finds a real talent and then other traits tend to show the intellectual hermaphroditism. The lack of the ability to combine, i.e. in art the lack of imagination, makes the female art practice by and large worthless. It is similar in other fields. I recall obstetrics, the development of which women have inhibited rather than promoted . Also the narrators, who in some cases describe quite gracefully, and the extremely rare female poets move on well-trodden paths, usury with the coins that men have minted. Even the culinary arts and the art of dressing have been promoted only by men, who invent the new recipes and the new fashions. Everything we see around us, every household appliance, the instruments of daily use, everything has been invented by men.
- It is therefore understandable that the sciences in the narrower sense have not been enriched by women, nor can they expect to be. The few female scholars, whose names the history of the last 2 millennia contains, were good students, nothing more. Of course, this is also true of most male scholars, but those are the tops, these form the lower layer from which only the true greats of science emerge. In ordinary life, too, the inability of the female mind to combine, the lack of independent thought, comes as a surprise every day and often forms a sharp contrast to the ease of acquisition. In addition, there is the lack of objectivity, which turns desires into reasons and dislikes into proofs. On the other hand, the realism peculiar to woman, which considers only advantage and disadvantage, ruthlessly pursues its goal, is not inhibited by factual considerations, brings practical advantages and enables woman to occasionally defeat the more cumbersome man, who looks at things from different sides and more impersonally. Only this female cunning is not a sign of high intellectual gifts, the woman stands here opposite the man like a skillful merchant to an artist or scholar. Incidentally, female cunning, if it happens to meet male cunning and is not inhibited by the sexual instinct, soon sets sail. That cunning is supported by pretending. The female is forced to this by her sexual role, it is instinctively practiced and its perfection makes up an essential part of female education. The task is to appear desirable, therefore one's own desire must be concealed and everything must be cleverly covered up that could be detrimental to the estimation of others. Between us there is truth, it is said in the play, between us there is untruth, it is said in life. This must be so, and nothing is more foolish than to try to forbid a woman to lie. Pretending, i.e. lying, is the natural and indispensable weapon of the woman, which she cannot do without. Admittedly, that weapon should only serve for defense, but it is understandable that it does not remain so that a procedure, which forms an important part of the conduct of life, is also used without necessity. In itself, the female lie is justified only in sexual relations, but equity demands that it be judged more leniently than the male lie.
- Like pretending and other characteristics considered so far, woman’s whole nature is most easily understood teleologically. How must this being be constituted in order to best fulfill the task set for it? The human woman should not only bear children, but also take care of them, since they, in contrast to the young of the animals, remain in need of help for so many years. This need for help on the part of children necessitates a greater differentiation of the sexes in humans than in animals. The man alone has to look after the provision of food, defense, and the department of the outside world in general, for the woman must first and foremost be a mother. In spiritual matters, too, everything that makes mothering easier is to be given to the woman, and everything that makes it more difficult is to be eliminated. Motherly love and loyalty are what nature wants from woman. That is why even the little girl plays with dolls and tenderly takes care of all those in need of help. That is why the woman is childlike, cheerful, patient and simple-minded. The mother needs courage at most to defend the children; in other relationships it would only disturb and is therefore missing. It is the same with other masculine qualities; strength and the urge to go far, imagination and the desire for knowledge would only make the woman restless and hinder her in her maternal profession, so nature gave them only in small doses. Just as an intelligent man will not choose a learned female to take care of his small children, so the eternal wisdom did not place next to the man another man with a uterus, but the woman, to whom she gave everything necessary for his noble profession, but to whom she denied the male mental power.
- According to all this, the female idiocy is not only present, but also necessary, it is not only a physiological fact, but also a physiological postulate. If we want a woman who completely fulfills her maternal profession, she cannot have a male brain. If it could be made that the female faculties would be developed equally to the male ones, the mother organs would atrophy and we would have an ugly and useless hermaphrodite before us. Someone has said that nothing should be required of the female except that she be "healthy and stupid." That is roughly expressed, but there is truth in the paradox. Excessive brain activity makes the woman not only wrong, but also ill. Unfortunately, we see this every day before our eyes. If woman is to be what nature intended her to be, she must not compete with man. Modern foolish women are bad breeders and bad mothers. In the degree to which "civilization" grows, fertility decreases. The better schools become, the worse maternity beds become, the lower the milk secretion becomes, in short, the more unfit the women become. Lombroso, who likes to refer to the animal kingdom, emphasizes that in the whole animal kingdom intelligence is in inverse proportion to fertility, that the female ants and bees acquire higher intelligence only at the expense of sexuality, while the queen of the bees, who alone is capable of reproduction, is a completely dull creature. Nevertheless, he continues: Certainly a more extended participation in social life will gradually raise the intelligence of women, and indeed in some more highly developed races the pleasing consequences of this are already apparent." Either the "pleasant" is a bitter irony or a ghastly inconsistency. By rights, only the devil or a Thor who believes in communion of souls and similar silliness should rejoice over something that corrupts the race and means the beginning of the end.
- Doctors have often been agitated by the demand of women to be admitted into medicine. Perhaps this matter is not so important. On the one hand, it cannot be denied that female mental abilities are sufficient for learning medicine, and that occasionally female physicians, if properly guided and supervised, can be useful (e.g. in Mohamedan populations), but on the other hand, only a few girls will turn to the study, fewer and fewer as the matter loses its "actuality," and these few will be those who are not quite fit for their female profession anyway. So, even if medicine, like women themselves, will not benefit much from the female study, it does not matter very much.
- It seems to me much more important that physicians get a clear idea of the female brain or mental state, that they understand the significance and value of female idiocy, and that they do everything in their power to fight the unnatural efforts of the "feminists" in the interest of the human race. What is at stake here is the health of the people, which is endangered by the perversity of "modern women." Nature is a strict woman and threatens the violation of her regulations with severe punishments. She has willed that woman should be a mother, and has directed all her powers to this end. If the woman fails to serve the species, if she wants to "live out" as an individual, then she is afflicted with an infirmity. Unfortunately, the man and the offspring are punished at the same time. It is our duty, the physician's, to advise and warn here. The future will hold us accountable. Should we get upset about the mistreatment of the female liver due to over-tightness of lacing, yet calmly watch the mistreatment of the female brain?
- Admittedly, even if everything that can be done against it is done, the evil will remain, and probably increase. For it seems to be a function of civilization. Just as the urban population with its predominantly cerebral activity gradually becomes barren and would die off without an influx from the countryside, so civilization in general seems to drain the sources of the fief and a people finally becomes so civilized that it can no longer live and can only be replenished by barbarian blood. Obviously, the primal phenomenon is the contrast between brain activity and reproduction. Both functions are closely connected, but the more one gets the predominance, the more the other suffers. Intellectual people are nervous and their offspring even more so. An essential characteristic of this form of degeneration is the blurring of the gender characters: feminine men and masculine women. The more nervous the population becomes, the more often girls with talents and generally masculine mental characteristics become. Also one must probably refer to crossed heredity: the daughter strikes after the father and the more intellectual men are bred, the more frequently they transfer their characteristic to their daughters. The matter is not improved by explanations, because explainable or not, necessary or not, the masculinization of the female always remains a misfortune.
- The law should also take into consideration the physiological idiocy of the female. Our laws are, on the whole, made only for men; minors are taken care of, but the adult woman is considered equal to the adult man in criminal law (to speak only of this), and not even for a mitigating circumstance is female sex considered anywhere. Wrongly so. To the considerations made so far is added that the female is to be regarded as abnormal during a considerable part of her life. I do not need to speak to physicians about the importance of menstruation and pregnancy for spiritual life, to point out that both conditions, without actual disease, disturb the spiritual equilibrium, impair the freedom of the will from the perspective of the law . If one considers the mental disabilities of the female discussed earlier, especially the inability to resist storms of emotions and the lack of sense of justice, one must realize that it is a great injustice to measure both sexes with the same yardstick. Only the low criminality of women, which is easily explained by the circumstances of female life, does not make them feel the harshness of our laws. But the more a woman leaves the protection of the home, the more she will come into conflict with the law, and then she will often be punished more severely than she deserves. To give only a few examples, is it fair to punish simple insults and especially insults to officials equally for both sexes? Does not the same apply to many petty thefts, which are basically to be treated as nuisances? One thing in particular should be noted. In their statements about the past, many women are not at all able to separate what they have really experienced from what they believe they have experienced. Such memory delusions also occur in men, but are much more frequent in women and cause false statements in which any dolus [deceit, malicious intent] is missing. Partly for this reason, little or nothing was given to the testimony of women in ancient times. The ancients exaggerated in one direction, we exaggerate in another, overestimate the woman as a witness, treat her too harshly as a defendant.
- If we see ourselves compelled to declare the normal woman as feeble-minded in comparison with the man, then nothing is said about the disadvantage of the woman. Her merits lie elsewhere than the merits of the man, and the differentiation of the sexes appears to us as a purposeful arrangement of nature, in which man and woman do not fare badly. However, if one takes a closer look at the life of the woman, one would like to think that nature has dealt harshly with her. The woman is not only more meagerly endowed with spiritual gifts than the man, but she also loses them much more quickly. This is the second sense in which one can speak of the physiological weakness of woman; here the prematurely aged woman is compared with the fresh or normal woman. It seems to me that up to now the frequency and prematurity of mental decline in the female has not been sufficiently considered. Here, too, it might be best to understand the matter teleologically. The woman is supposed to be a mother; but in order to become one, she must first have a man who takes upon himself to care for her and the children. Therefore, institutions had to be made to make the man inclined to it. Schopenhauer says: "With the girls, nature has aimed at what is called, in the dramaturgical sense, a bang effect, by endowing them, for a few years, with abundant beauty, charm and fullness, at the expense of their entire remaining life time, so that they could, during those years, seize a man’s imagination to such an extent that he would be enticed to honestly take over the care of them for the rest of their lives, in some form or another." To this it must be added that the endowment of girls does not consist only in physical qualities, and that the loss which women suffer relatively early does not refer only to these. Much more than is usually thought, exterior and interior correspond to each other. Thus, the blossoming and fading of female beauty also correspond to spiritual changes that take place in the same sense. The spirit of the virgin is excited, fiery, sharp. Thus, on the one hand, her power to attract is increased, on the other hand, she is enabled to be active in sexual selection, to be equal to the opponent in love games and love battles. The whole meaning of female life depends on the girl getting the right man; at this moment, as the climax of life, all forces are directed and all mental faculties are concentrated on the one goal. As is well known, the intellect is the servant of the will, i.e. our insight serves our instincts, we are perceptive only when we follow our inclinations; interest makes us wise. One has this talent, the other that; in the subject he loves he is capable, in others not. The female talent now badly gone is simply the disposition for affairs of love; here the will drives the intellect, sharpens and tightens it. All other matters really gain meaning only because they are related to the main business. When the virgin meets the young man, she is in the position of a commander who goes to meet a hostile army. But also out of action (to remain in the military field), the virgin is to be compared to a mobilized troop. She wears the war kit, she is always on post and ready for action. In other words, the mental excitement manifests itself in everything she does. The girl gets excited about things that don't concern her at all, is interested, sometimes only in appearance, but sometimes seriously, in all kinds of things, makes judgments, argues, in short, she appears to be witty and, in love matters, often ingenious. Now she marries and after a short time she becomes someone else. The fiery, often brilliant girl becomes a simple, harmless woman. Of course, things do not always turn out this way, but quite often People noticed that transformation for the worse early on and explained it in their own way. It was believed that with virginity a spell is broken, that secret powers disappear. In the Song of the Nibelungs, the virgin Brunhilde overcomes every man; when she is overcome by Siegfried, she becomes a woman like others. Similar things are often found in the sagas. In modern life, one rather says: she no longer needs it, in the opinion that the physical and mental liveliness had only the purpose of attracting the man. In any case, it is not only a matter of wanting, of which the woman could give an account. She actually loses abilities she previously possessed and, even with the best will in the world, could no longer perform what she used to. Only about this one can be doubtful whether the deficit in intellectual achievements can be explained exclusively by the loss of the excitement which stimulates the intellect.
- Even in those who have done well in the first years of marriage, the decline often begins after a few puerperia [births]. Just as beauty and physical strength dwindle, so, too, mental faculties revert back and the woman is "simplified," as it is popularly known. Often this matter is not noticed, or at least does not bother, because the so-called mental capacities remain unchanged, and in ordinary life no spiritual demands are made on the woman. The attentive observer, however, cannot be deceived, and the factuality of this misconception is often widely recognized. The ‘ladies of the emancipation’ have often referred to it grimly and, of course, attributed it to the fact that the degrading confinement to the nursery and the kitchen would lead to spiritual decline. Here, as elsewhere, the explanation from the "milieu" is based on superficiality. This restriction would not occur at all if special spiritual needs were present. In the relatively large number of women whose brains are more permanently applied, it really does not occur, or, if the circumstances in fact permit only what is necessary, the freshness of mind is preserved in spite of the children and the cooking. Undoubtedly, not all of them fall prey to invective, a behavior that obviously has its conditions in innate characteristics, even if it is not always possible to achieve a closer understanding. If we completely disregard the many poorly endowed ones, whose spiritual life is minimal and with whom nothing can be noticed of a spiritual blossoming even in the prime of life, then the women may be compared to a troop that has to endure repeated attacks from the enemy, i.e. time. Some fall already in the first battle, or become weak after a few years of marriage, others hold out longer, but gradually succumb, whether they become exceedingly plain women, or wither away into whimsical old maids. But the remaining ones still have to endure the main onslaught of the enemy, the climacterium [~menopause]. The higher a being stands, the later it will mature. Already by the fact that nature made man mature later than woman, she has preferred him and has shown that she wanted to go higher with him. But the favoring of the man becomes much greater still due to the fact that he is allowed to keep the once acquired abilities almost up to the end of life. The precocious woman, on the other hand, has on average only 30 years in which she is complete. At first, the climacterium means only the cessation of sexual activity, yet the organism is one and the various functions are interdependent. In particular, there are close relations between sexual activity and brain activity. If the latter awakens, the former changes, and if the former disappears, the latter will also change. That first change is a considerable plus, therefore the second will be a minus. Accordingly, we have to expect from the climacterium, through which the woman becomes an "old woman," a weakening of the mental abilities. Experience does not deceive the expectation. I would like to point out right away that there are exceptions, that some old women delight with their astonishing freshness even into old age. But they are only the old guard, which does not surrender and also repeals the main attack of the enemy, at least in the main: the bulk of the army is defeated. First of all, it must be remembered that the outside is the mirror of the inside. It is true that physiognomy is often ridiculed, and in fact we are usually not able to justify our physiognomic judgments discursively, it is a matter of instinctive recognition, but nevertheless one can rely on what the face says. Look impartially at the majority of old women and think about the involuntarily formed judgment. It is known what abundance of mockery and begrudging remarks has been poured over the poor old women in verses, proverbs and other speech since time immemorial. Could this have happened without reason? One could think that it is an expression of hostility, but where should it come from? The man does not hate the female sex, unless he is forced to fight with it. But against the no longer sexually active women he must, apart from special cases, feel indifference or even benevolence mixed with pity. They no longer mean anything to him, and the memory of his own mother should remind everyone to be lenient. If, in spite of this, the popular voice has almost nothing but unpleasantness to say of them, and the saying leaves little good hair on their heads, their own characteristics must be to blame. They are accused of superstition, narrow-mindedness, pettiness in general, quarrelsomeness, talkativeness, gossip addiction, all of which point to a low level of intellectual abilities and constitute the woman’s acquired idiocy. To be fair, one must add that the general verdict would have been milder if the old women were less ugly. Ugly means hateful, and people actually hate ugliness, as can be seen from the animals considered ugly. Thus the unfavorable opinion overshoots the mark when it speaks of wicked old women, wicked old witches, and so on. The wicked old women were no good in former times either, one only did not ascribe their wickedness to them as long as they had physical charms. However, through the idiocy the malice pierces more undisguised and takes ridiculous forms, but it does not produce it. The simple idiocy of the years fortunately leaves the truly good qualities of the woman unchanged, the maternal disposition remains and in spite of all simple-mindedness an old woman can harbor a treasure trove of tenderness.
- After this general overview, it would be necessary to show in more detail how the acquired physiological idiocy of the female manifests itself. It has already been noticed by others that the learning ability of the female, her most developed ability, ceases relatively early. Of course, it is very difficult to find out more about it. A very striking feature is the gradual increase of mental myopia. Only the nearest thing is seen and therefore it is overestimated. Characteristic is the thriftiness in the wrong place; large expenditures must be made, because one could not decide on small ones and, in order to save pennies, the mark is lost. Related to this is the overestimation of small matters in general; present trifles make us forget the past and the future, rob us of all composure; big and small things are treated with the same excitement and the truly important is neglected for the sake of a trifle. Bad experiences do not change anything in the matter and arguments achieve theoretical approval, but do not improve. "I am like this once." The weakness of the power of judgment becomes especially apparent because instinct diminishes with the years. It is often concealed by leaning on other people's judgment; but if the support is missing, one is shocked by unbelievable mistakes in very simple matters. The suggestibility decreases more and more, monotonous self-suggestions prevail and cause a stubbornness against which reasons are completely powerless. Because the mind becomes stiff, the existing is more and more right, "misoneism" [fear or hatred of change] develops and the reactions become machine-like. These things are generally peculiar to old age, but in women they are observed remarkably early, and they receive a peculiar coloring through the connection with the female art of speech. Whoever has not had the good fortune to listen to the discussions of older ladies can hardly form an idea of the length and emptiness of those conversations. The plainest topic is processed into countless variations, and the sharp tempos prevail. The image of the flow of speech has undergone many variations: eaves, rippling waves, etc., perhaps the best comparison is with an empty mill.
- The knowledge of the different forms of the physiological sense of idiocy can also be of clinical importance when it comes to distinguishing it from pathological idiocy, and the one who only knows the norm as taken from the man is in danger of diagnosing pathological conditions in a woman where they are not present. The assessment of mild idiocy is one of the most difficult tasks and our clinical methods are directed only to gross changes. It is obvious that the school examinations, which are based on the existing knowledge, are not sufficient. Nor do the methods that form a judgment about the speed of simple mental processes provide sufficient information. The most important thing would be to examine the capacity of combination. Rieger has made some suggestions to this effect. One has probably also used easy tasks in the manner of riddles and ordinary ones. In any case, it would be desirable if the efforts in this direction would find general support. But even after improving the methods, one cannot rely on clinical testing alone. This will never be exhaustive, mental states can interfere, in short, the observation of the human being under the conditions of real life will be indispensable. Especially the judgment about the mental capacity will not be based on random tests alone, but on the life history.
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